Tag Archives: never forget

Only YOU can prevent a Genocide: An Introduction to 6 actions you can take

2 May

Never Again.  Never again another Holocaust.

Or, Never Again – until, what?  Our human nature overwhelms our humanity?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and marks the official day of Yom HaShoah  or Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Shoah (think Steven Spielberg’s movie) means ‘calamity’ and represents the mass murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Unfortunately. the US Holocaust Museum reminds us, ‘calamities’ aren’t just about the past.  Unexplainable calamities and hate crimes of all types  happen in the present.  Too often, as we’re reminded by the recent act of terror in the Boston bombing.

 And think Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Newton…  Think of all the little kids being teased on the playground – or in board rooms

Never again until it happens again... www.westminster.edu
Never again until it happens again… www.westminster.edu

I know many of  us ask ‘WWID:  What would I do?’  if we were in that position:  an almost impossible question to ask.

A better question: WWID (What will I do) to prevent the next hate crime, was posed at the US Holocaust Museum’s 20th Anniversary Conference.

The good news is there are things each of us can do.   And why I think there needs to be a movement.   And a slogan.

An ‘Only YOU can prevent Genocide, hate crimes, and bullying’.

If there is a slogan to prevent forest fires, why NOT genocide and hate crimes?

How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokey-if-not-you-hubpages-com.jpg
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokeyifnotyou@hubpages-com
As a conflict management facilitator, and during my visit to Auschwitz,  I’ve often asked:  what causes people to hate so much they commit hate crimes: Holocausts and genocides?     (I will say though, it’s not the best conversation starter at parties….)  
But here’s the reason I think each of us are the answer:  Hate crimes start small: with one person’s hate.  The Holocaust is thought of as one murder happening six million times.  That’s a lot of individual acts of hate.  If we look at this as a personal, and individual problem, we can do something about it.  
Yes, I’m optimistic and naive.

So I’m proposing these 6 steps we can all take:

  1. We all need to be secure in our own identity
  2. Fill yourself with Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness
  3. Know and apply history – don’t just learn it
  4. Meet people outside your comfort zone
  5. Stay awake and involved in our global world
  6. Stand up and take action on your beliefs

I’ll be writing about these in the coming weeks.  Before I get started though,  I realized:  We need Constant Reminders

Somehow, we need to keep the danger of genocide front and center (so people will follow these steps).    And there are way too many things competing for our attention every second thanks to social media.

My first thought was Smokey the Bear:

A bookmark reminder!
A bookmark reminder!

But I realize that preventing forest fires is preventing an ACTION!  

Genocides are about THOUGHT, EMOTION, FEAR. 

Fires still start by people.

But we need a specific reminder.  Here’s one thought:

Only YOU can prevent genocide.  A bit inelegant, but a start.
Inelegant, perhaps, but I had to add again…

Images can be powerful, especially in our image filled world.  One ‘Smokey’ image eerily coincided with an anti-genocide message:

Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness - of words and action.  Prevent hate crimes
I think this is kind of creepy…. Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness – of words and action. Prevent hate crimes

Next prep:  Sharing stories

I’d like to say we need to learn history and be ‘educated’.  But it seems we’ve tried that.  Stories though, are powerful in learning about the effect of genocide and hate crimes and filling us with a sense of empathy and compassion.  And it’s this emotion we can build on.

The UN Symposium on Preventing Genocide with ‘A Meaningful World’ on April 4th, began with a film:

Starved and ragged men being marched down the streets, officers on horseback rounding them up, children alone and crying on the street, people with bundles of clothing on the street in front of their home.

This was uncomfortably familiar footage:  it looked exactly like what I’d seen from the Holocaust.

neveeragain1915suite101.com

But no, this was from the first genocide of the 20th century:  The Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915.

Did you know about it?  I didn’t.  How is that possible I had to ask myself.

One speaker shared this thought:  ‘When Hitler was asked about his place in history regarding the murder of Jews he said:

“Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?

Wow!!

And as Dr. Ani Kalayjian, A Meaningful World’s leader said, “When we help another…Both are made stronger.”

What are your reminders to act with kindness, empathy and compassion?

How do you gather stories from others?  What have you learned from them?

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